Holiday Bowl Preview Part 1

The Bears of Baylor and the Bruins of UCLA square off in San Diego Thursday evening in the Holiday Bowl. Find out which players for UCLA the Baylor Bears should have their eyes on.

For the second year in a row, the Bears will be facing a team from the Pac-12 conference with an excellent senior running back and an athletic freshman quarterback throwing to one of the better tight ends in the country. While UCLA is a much more balanced team due to their defense, they will give us some familiar looks on the offensive side of the ball that Washington gave us last year.

-Jonathan Franklin – Senior Running Back

With over 2000 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns on the year, Franklin will be one of the better running backs the Bears have seen this year. The senior tailback is a quick runner with solid speed and is also pretty dangerous in the open field. He is an experienced player with a ton of starts and carries under his belt. A two-time 1000 yard rusher, Franklin developed more in the passing game this year, as he caught 32 passes out of the back field.

At 5-10, he is a smaller back that does not get a ton of yardage after contact, but is very good at making players miss. The Baylor defensive line will have to be disciplined in their gaps, as Franklin likes to cut the ball back and hit the defense on the other side of the play. If the Baylor defenders over commit, Franklin can cut and turn on the jets and easily get into the defensive backfield.

-Brett Hundley – Freshman Quarterback

As a redshirt freshman, there were a ton of expectations heaped on the young signal caller, but he responded brilliantly from the start. On his first play from scrimmage against Rice, Hundley took the snap and ran 72 yards down the sideline for his first career touchdown. From that point though, his arm would be the more powerful weapon. While he is an athletic player who can run, watching him this year, he definitely wants to throw first and at times seemed tentative to pull the ball down and go.

Hundley attempted 151 rushes but only gained 365 yards for a 2.4 yard per rush average. Even for a quarterback who has sacks taken out of his rushing totals, that is not a very efficient rushing attack. His arm though was very efficient, as he completed 68.2% of his passes and only threw 11 interceptions. He was incredibly effective in Goal to Go situations, where he threw for 11 touchdowns and just 1 interception. He threw the ball away quite a bit to save the drive, as he completed only 15 of 25 passes, but that is what you want from an experienced quarterback, nonetheless a freshman.

-Anthony Barr – Junior Linebacker

In their 3-4 defensive front, Barr is the one that attacks the passer. Normally you would say rush or blitz, but those would not be an accurate depiction of what Barr does. He attacks. Just simply attacks whoever is in front of him on the way to the quarterback. He had 13.5 sacks on the season along with 20.5 tackles for loss.

Barr, a wide receiver until this year, is a great athlete for the position and has exceptional speed along with natural instincts for rushing the passer. He primarily lines up on the left side as the outside linebacker. He has a relentless motor, as he commonly chases down ball carriers from behind and will not stop on the play. He does have a few pass rush moves, but his best is by far the speed rush move to the outside. The young Baylor tackles have handled some real good defensive ends this year, but Barr might be the most talented.

- Eric Kendricks – Sophomore Linebacker

The other star linebacker for the Bruins is on the inside, and plays a much different game than Barr. Kendricks mans the weakside linebacker spot, and his main job is in the running game and purely tackling anything he can find. Luckily for Bruins fans, he did that extremely well in 2012, as he racked up a team high 137 tackles.

Eric, the younger brother of Pac-12 Defensive Player of the year and 2012 second round draft choice Mychal, is a traditional inside linebacker with good mobility. He is another very active linebacker with good size and strength. He is a sturdy tackler and knows how to read an offense as he has been playing the position for a long time.

-Joseph Fauria – Senior Tight End

Just call him Mr. Touchdown for the Bruins. The 6-7 physical beast of a tight end has caught 11 touchdowns on the year, 9 more than any other UCLA receiver. He is the go to guy in the red-zone and is a good enough blocker to keep defenses honest, though that is by far not his strong suit. He is a pass catcher, who is getting better at running routes, though he still has quite a bit of room to improve. But if you put him in a one on one position with one single read and the end zone close, you know he is getting the ball. In fact, before the Pac-12 championship game against Stanford, he caught a touchdown pass in 5 straight games. He will be a tough matchup for the Bears, as they don't have anyone close to his size to matchup with in the short yardage situations or the red zone.

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